Extreme heat can impair the immune system and increase inflammation

  • 2 Min To Read
  • 22 days ago

New research presented at the American Heart Association’s EPI|Lifestyle Scientific Sessions 2024 highlights the potential health risks associated with heat exposure. The study, conducted by lead author Daniel W. Riggs, PhD, from the University of Louisville, suggests that heat exposure may impair immune function and increase inflammation, which could raise the risk of heart disease in some individuals.

The study looked at blood samples from participants in Louisville to analyze how the immune system was affected by heat. Researchers found that as the temperature increased, there was an increase in inflammation markers and a decrease in B-cells, which help the immune system fight off pathogens like viruses and bacteria. These findings suggest that heat exposure could make the body more susceptible to infections and worsen cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, experts warn that overexposure to extreme heat can lead to heat-related illnesses, ranging from mild heat cramps to severe heat stroke. Young children, older adults, and individuals with heart disease or chronic health conditions are particularly vulnerable to these heat-related illnesses.

To prevent heat-related illnesses and protect against the potential negative effects of heat exposure on the immune system, experts recommend staying out of the sun during peak hours, staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol, and using sun protection. By following these guidelines, individuals can reduce their risk of heat-related health issues and protect their overall well-being.

In conclusion, while heat exposure may have negative effects on the immune system and increase inflammation, taking preventative measures can help mitigate these risks. It is important for individuals to be aware of the potential health implications of heat exposure and take steps to stay safe and healthy during hot weather.


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